Iowa City, circa 1987.
Everyone seems to use the buzzword/phrase “in my wheelhouse” these days. Generally, they mean that something they’ve done or acquired is appropriately within their scope of expertise (or, if used in the negative, something that isn’t within their scope). In this photo, I was in an actual wheelhouse – a little house in a park, the inside of which is a moving wheel, like the wheel in a mouse cage. The idea of this playground toy is for children, who are short enough to stand erect inside the wheel, to run off energy by running the wheel in a circle.
In the first two years I lived in Iowa City, I spent a lot of time in this wheelhouse. The park was situated halfway between my apartment and the house my friend Martin Oliver was renting. We often wandered over to have a go at staying upright in the wheel (I never made it for long). Then, when I met Cathann Arceneaux, who took this photo, we went there to sit in the wheel and have rambling conversations about the meaning of life.
What I loved about living in Iowa City, and being in graduate school full-time, was the sense of developing purpose, growth in knowledge and ideas, of discovery – trying to determine where my own figurative wheelhouse was situated. My favorite thing about this photo is that I am relaxing in the wheel, taking a moment to enjoy just being. Those were rare moments at a time in my life when I had a full course load, a full-time night job, and a graduate assistantship. But what’s the point of having a wheelhouse if all you do is run? Sometimes, you just need to relax and breathe!